How to fight

under conditions of fascist state terror

within factories and trade unions?

 

Lessons on the workers' struggle

against Hitler-Fascism

in factories and trade unions

 

 

written by Wolfgang Eggers

1983

published by "ROTER MORGEN"

Series in 10 parts:

No. 19 from May 13 to No. 28 from July 15, 1983

 

- English translation on occasion of

" 100 Years: RILU-CAMPAIGN, 2021" -

 

NOTE

The editorial staff of the Roter Morgen (it was already at this time under the Trotskyist censorship of the Koch Central Committee of the KPD/ML) had printed the article submitted by comrade Wolfgang Eggers shortened and "commented" - namely against his will. Unfortunately, the complete, uncensored original document can no longer be found. Thus here we can present only the revised version of fragments ...

[among other things the Trotskyite Roter Morgen editorial staff refused to print the draft of the KPD/ML Social Program , which was written by comrade Wolfgang Eggers. This program also disappeared in the Trotskyite wastebasket.]




Historically,

the series of articles begins with the moment

when the Nazis smashed the trade unions on May 1, 1933.

 

... The social-fascist SPD left all these offers of the KPD for a united front against Hitler's fascism unanswered. And then, in June 1933, the SPD itself was bannedby the Nazis.

This constant waiting and delaying had dramatically worsened the position of the German working class at the most critical moment.

Anti-fascist unity actions, joint resistances, uprisings, general strikes of the workers - all this was thus deliberately prevented by the SPD, which is why it fully played its role as a stirrup holder of fascism at this critical moment of Hitler's seizure of power. This was the greatest and most momentous historical crime that the SPD had ever committed against the German labor movement and the German people, and it must never be forgotten.

The picture of the international trade union movement was similar. It should be noted here that the RILU (Revolutionary Trade Union International) had already approached the Amsterdam International (yellow trade union international of the Social Democracy) several dozen times since 1921 to fight together against capitalism. Social Democracy, however, rejected on principle any cooperation with the communist trade unions. Thus it sided with capital worldwide. And it was the world proletariat that criticized the criminal attitude of the Amsterdam Trade Union International, namely that by rejecting the anti-fascist united front it had made Hitler's seizure of power possible in the first place. In the course of 15 years, membership dropped from 24 million to 9 million. By the way, the German trade union was already from the beginning the largest trade union in the world. Thus, on a world scale, it would have had a decisive influence on the anti-fascist labor movement. In this respect the betrayal of the SPD was not only a betrayal of the German working class, of the German people, but above all of the entire world proletariat and peoples.

In a letter from the RILU to the Amsterdam Trade Union International, the proposal was made to participate in the reconstruction of free trade unions in Germany. But the reply was, "No practical results can be achieved at present."

The achievement of an anti-fascist united front between the RGI and the "Amsterdamer" would have meant the mobilization of 35 million members ! Such a world union of trade unions could have broken Hitler's neck and would have been a formidable world power against capital, against war and fascism. And then it would very well be possible to "achieve practical results", for example in the international struggle against wage cuts, for comprehensive social insurance, for freedom to strike, freedom of the workers' and trade union press, etc.

In order to achieve unity in the trade union movement, the RILU proposed the following platform:

"1.

Against wage cuts, for wage increases;

2.

For thoroughgoing unemployment insurance at the expense of entrepreneurs and the state;

3.

Struggle against fascism and for the restoration of free trade unions where they have been dissolved by fascism and against the standardization of trade unions, as well as for the dissolution of all fascist organizations in countries where fascism is not yet in power;

4.

Unification of trade unions in all countries on the basis of the struggle against capital and broad trade union democracy;

5.

Convene an international congress of the representatives of the trade union internationals affiliated to the two Internationals to create a united trade union international;

6.

To convene the International Congress, create a joint commission of representatives of both Internationals to coordinate the struggle of the trade unions in all countries and to prepare for the unification congress.

What can be said against the unification of the trade unions and the creation of a united International ?

We do not impose our views on the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the Soviet system, we do not demand that the leaders of the Amsterdam International become communists and revolutionaries. We say to them:

You have declared many times in the resolutions of your International that you will fight against fascism. You have declared that you want to fight against the war, against the capital offensive. So let's fight together. Will we then achieve less together than each of us could achieve alone? After all, the basic slogan of the trade union movement of the whole world since the first days of its birth has been:

Unity is strength!

Should there really be a single worker in the world who would believe that disunity is strength ? The workers want unity."

This revisionist line of unity policy was laid down at the VII World Congress of the Communist International. Ostensibly, this was to "overcome" "sectarian" positions of the Communists on the trade union question.

In truth, the VII World Congress "overcame" the correct decisions of the Stalinist VI World Congress (!).

The crucial question is:

Why was first the RILU dissolved in 1937 and then the Comintern in 1943 ? - Especially at a time when the international organization of the world proletariat to overthrow Hitler's fascism was on the agenda of the world revolution !

Under the most difficult conditions of the fascist dictatorship the workers need their communist organizations more urgently than under any other conditions. How can all the so laboriously created and built up communist world organizations dissolve ?

This happened because of the increasing influence of right opportunism within the communist world organizations.

There was no more talk about the Leninist world revolutionary transformation of the struggle against war and fascism into socialism. The slogan of the transformation of the fascist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie into the dictatorship of the proletariat was completely dropped and declared "sectarian".

Thus, the right opportunists betrayed the banner of Lenin and Stalin and took the road of reconciliation with the liberal bourgeoisie, with the social-fascist leaders of social democracy - they wanted the worker to remain under the thumb of capitalism!

In the anti-fascist struggle of the communist and workers' movement, the later leaders of modern revisionism committed sabotage all along the line. It was the same leaders who finally established the social-fascist rule of the bourgeoisie in the GDR and turned the GDR into a workers' and peasants' prison . . .

The fact is that an anti-fascist united front was formed from below among social-democratic and communist workers, that grassroots workers were united in the common struggle against fascism in power and, despite the most difficult, illegal conditions, stood up for each other and together "achieved practical results." Even a fascist dictatorship proved unable to crush the workers' united front.

At the grassroots level, notable successes were achieved in the shop steward elections in the spring of 1934. In the majority of factories, the fascist candidates received barely more than 25 % of the votes cast. After 1935, the fascists consequently stopped all elections and eliminated the old shop steward system. Those who did not please the Nazis were summarily dismissed or replaced by their own people. In the factories, even the very last rights of the workers were destroyed and the worst reaction and fascism darkened the workplaces.

The fascist labor legislation made the workers completely without rights. What followed were political purges in the factories, spin-offs, occupational bans, compulsory obligations, bans on changing jobs, forced labor - all made possible by the fascist "general compulsory labor law." The fascists organized their own slaveholding system - the DAF [Deutsche Arbeitsfront], the "Labor Front for the Führer."

General social institutions were dismantled and Nazi institutions were created instead to militarize the factories. Wage cuts, support cuts, arbitrary ordering of short-time work or overtime without wage compensation, the abolition of the 8-hour day and the introduction of working time legislation by the fascist state followed.

The resistance struggle of the revolutionary workers, their anti-fascist trade union work had to be shifted under the conditions of fascism into the fascist organizations - into the "labor front". Here, new forms and methods of struggle had to be developed to smash fascism with the long-term goal of building revolutionary trade unions. To this end, the communist workers used all conceivable legal means. Even under Hitler's fascism, the workers successfully applied the principle of the "Trojan Horse."

Using this method, the workers raised demands for wage increases, which brought movement and unrest into the factories. So the Nazis had no choice but to demagogically "hold out the prospect" of wage increases in their "Völkischer Beobachter" to calm the workers. Some colleagues cut out the newspaper article and pinned it to the bulletin board. This legally started the discussion in the plant and put pressure on the management. Who wanted to forbid the workers to discuss an article in the official "Völkischer Beobachter" ?! All these legalized new forms of struggle proved quite effective. Before Hitler came to power, Communist workers in the factories concentrated on exposing Nazi leaders when they tried to make their case for wage cuts. In one leaflet, they countered with the provocative question:

"Can you make iron on your bread?" (instead of butter)

Before the establishment of Hitler's dictatorship, the communists tried to persuade the fascist-influenced workers to participate in the RGO's labor struggle, which was also successful, for example, in the BVG strike. The bourgeoisie, the ADGB and the social-fascist SPD leaders denigrated the striking workers under the slogan: "Right-wing extremists and left-wing extremists - hand in hand against democracy"

(Part 2)

Roter Morgen, No. 20, May 20, 1983:

It could not be ignored that millions of people were influenced with "new" ideas and slogans of the Nazis in the last years. Moreover, the Nazis created facts and proofs for the decrease of unemployment. This had a great effect and must not tempt us to overestimate the impact of the trade union resistance activities against the fascists on the broad masses. No one can deny that the resistance struggle of the German working class did not play the decisive role that it should have. The legality of the communist party was destroyed, most of the leaders eliminated and the KPD had to work underground under dangerous conditions in factories and trade unions. As we know today, the decisive anti-fascist forces came from outside and not from within. But this is not so much the point in this context as it is to appreciate the extremely difficult trade union resistance struggle and to draw lessons from it.

Thus, at that time, colleagues in the workplaces had to learn to speak in a coded language adapted to the new conditions under the terror of Hitler's fascism without arousing suspicion of infiltration. It was necessary to use the language of the fascists in order to allow any discussion of trade union issues at all. Everything else was nipped in the bud with the brutal terror of the fascists.

It was also true that the worker, who was misled by the Nazis, could not be put on an equal footing with the brown hordes of the SA and SS. In order to win the worker for the resistance, one had to get exact knowledge about his mentality. But above all, one had to recognize the difference between the mood of the factory workers and the limited possibility of their struggle compared to the once still legal time (before the fascist seizure of power) and draw conclusions from this for trade union work under fascist conditions.

One had to learn to combine the legal and the illegal trade union struggles in the best possible way. This was not easy and, especially in the beginning, was fraught with some mistakes.

Two deviations from successful trade union work under fascist conditions had to be avoided.

First:

The rejection of the illegal trade union struggle or the downplaying of its role, as well as attempts to diminish its old traditional revolutionary aim:

Secondly:

The rejection of trade union work in the fascist mass organizations and the exploitation of legal opportunities.

These two deviations, the inability to adapt consistently revolutionary trade union tactics to the special conditions of Hitler's fascism, arose not only under the pressure of the open terror of the fascist dictatorship, but were also an expression of the demagogy of the fascists within the workers movement itself.

This demagogic influence of the fascists on the workers had to be fought at all costs, even and especially under the most difficult conditions of fascist terror. In this respect, trade unionists were not allowed to take a neutral stance. With a neutral trade union position one does not resist fascism, but leaves fascism untouched. The neutrality of the trade unions, with which everything party-political is kept out, must never be elevated to a principle, and certainly not under conditions of fascism. Only the struggle to overcome the fascist system could guarantee the restoration of free trade unions to fight on a broad basis against the wage slavery of capitalism.

The attempts to legalize trade union work within the DAF (fascist German Labor Front) might therefore not lead to capitulation thus to renounce the political goal of overthrowing Hitler's fascism and limit itself to the struggle for economic improvements of the workforce. With reformism one can neither prevent the seizure of power by fascism nor free oneself from fascism. Struggle for reforms must be always subordinated to the struggle for the anti-fascist revolution.

Many trade unionists who were still active before the seizure of power wavered, resigned or blunted. But there were still enough who energetically began to make connections and build up illegal trade union groups on a small scale, with the help of which the work in the fascist mass organizations within the factories was to be exploited. Often this was done through liaison officers who, while concealing their contacts with the "illegals" from their colleagues, were themselves recognized as reliable and trustworthy colleagues among the workers. The best and most steadfast colleagues tried to stand by the side of the workers in the most difficult times of illegality and help them to overcome these difficult times and to make up for the losses in their own ranks with new forces.

It was necessary to tie in with the moods of the workers. For example, after the fascist seizure of power in Germany, it was more possible to spark a factory movement against the high dividends and directors' salaries than for a wage increase. This was new and had to be taken up. In this context, by stirring up discontent, it was also possible to start a discussion for a wage increase.

 

(Part 3)
Roter Morgen, No. 21, May 27, 1983:

In the fall and winter of 1934, small movements were discernible in the factories, mainly directed against the compulsory deductions for winter aid, airline donations, labor front contributions, and so on. Mention should be made of the passive resistance of workers at AEG-Brunnenstrasse in Berlin against deductions for winter relief. The fascist press naturally concealed this movement of passive resistance in the factories. Only from time to time did something of it leak out, for example in the "Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung," July 10, 1935:

"The cases of industrial disputes and disturbances of industrial peace brought before the Trustee of Labor in the past months and handled by him, in the great majority caused by denominational fanatics, sectarians, serious Bible scholars, club hacks, know-it-alls, idlers, incorrigibles, social reformers, those obsessed with professional pride. The interesting discovery from the point of view of state policy was that in 90 to 100 cases the strike supporters were not members of the German Labor Front. It was necessary to point out and announce in my speeches at the promotional events of the German Labor Front in June that in the future the disturbers of industrial peace will be removed from the factories without mercy. I am determined to act with the necessary severity possible under the law."

From such tones one could hear that the disturbance of industrial peace must already have been very extensive and of a serious nature. There was resistance from the workers that could not be concealed. According to the GESTAPO, a total of about 25,000 workers went on strike in 1935. For the months of July to August alone, 13 strikes and 39 cases of sabotage were recorded. In the main, the actions were directed against the deterioration of wages. And it was about the improvement of working conditions. The largest number of strike hours was in heavy industry. Only in a few actions did the number of strike participants exceed 100 people. Only in 6 out of 33 strikes there were more than 1000 strikers. Strikes were of a short-term nature. They often lasted only a few hours and only in a few cases a whole day.

* * *

Free trade union groups had become active in the workforces of metalworkers, in the textile industry, in mining and in the graphics industry, and among white-collar workers.

From the fall of 1933, the trade union resistance struggle of some Social Democratic trade union officials also intensified. They established links with each other and formed a committee to act as the Reich leadership of the trade unions. Due to the fascist terror they had to flee to Czechoslovakia. From there they supported the trade union work in Germany. The so-called foreign representation of the German trade unions, ADG, was established there. It was attended by 7 German trade unionists, representatives of German trade unionists in Czechoslovakia, and the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Walter Schevenils. This foreign representation saw its main task in gathering the German trade unionists living in emigration and in doing possible preliminary work for the reconstruction of the German trade unions after the fall of Hitler.

 

* * *

Here is another example of how legal means could be used to enforce the demands of the day. The demagogic labor front slogan of the "beauty of work" was used. In a pamphlet it was said:

"Do you have a decent washroom with a hot water system? Do you have a decent checkroom and a lockable closet for everyone? If you still squat on the boxes during breakfast and lunch break, then demand a clean and bright dining room, safety measures on every machine. There is a lack of 'beauty of work' at every corner of the plant."

At the end of 1935/beginning of 1936 there were great shortages in supplies. There was a shortage of meat and fat in particular. This was accompanied by enormous price increases. There were anti-inflationary demonstrations by housewives. At the markets, they were outraged by the shortage of the most important foodstuffs. In the factories, the inflation could be exploited as a starting point for demands for higher wages. The store steward elections in December 1935/January 1936 also contributed to the revival of the resistance movement in the factories. The employers had to take into account the wishes of the workforce, which had a favorable effect on mobilization. Despite the social demagogy of the fascists, they had difficulty in inspiring workers to support fascism.

The fascists therefore tried to win over the workers with carrots and sticks. They built organizations like "Strength through Joy". They supported the granting of vacations, the transfer of groups of workers to salaried employment, the protection against dismissal for some groups of employees, the establishment of so-called honorary days for certain professions and other things. But it was clear that such propaganda methods could not and would not overcome class antagonisms. Benefits for workers on a broader scale would inevitably have aroused the displeasure of the German business community. They would make no concessions here even if the Nazis landed on their bellies with their social demagogy.

Thus, social demagogy was constantly challenged by the contradictions of capitalism. Leading circles of finance capital at that time pushed for an economic offensive course that deviated from the social demagogic state economic policy. There was no other way, however, for capital to get out of the growing production and sales difficulties. The national debt grew to dizzying heights. There was a lack of initiative on the part of private capital. A new wave of industrial rationalization was therefore inevitable: wage cuts and worsening working conditions, cutbacks in spending on the state apparatus, the levying of new taxes to finance state contracts and thus an increased burden on the population, and a worsening of their living conditions.

Problems also arose from the bloated war industry and the simultaneous decline in the production of consumer goods. This also meant a severe reduction in purchasing power. This gave the unions the opportunity to initiate resistance actions in the factories. But only a minority of the workforce was prepared to take active action against Hitler. The majority did not recognize the possibility of a successful struggle and stood aside, indifferent and waiting.

 

 

(Part 4)
Roter Morgen, No. 22, June 3, 1983:

Fortunately, a process of radicalization took place among the Social Democratic workers. The overwhelming majority of Social Democratic workers no longer saw any obstacle to working together with the Communists, based on the experience of practical struggle. Here great successes were achieved in daily small-scale work. But there was also a radicalization to the other side. When the war broke out, some leaders of the SPD repeated more and more their old social-chauvinist attitude of the First World War.

Through various Liaison Committees , not only was cooperation improved, but Christian and nonpartisan workers were also enabled to join the united front. This was also important for filling legal commissions, committees and delegations in the fascist mass organizations. In this way, new trade union groups could be created.

The successes did not fail to materialize. A new consciousness of the unity front grew among the resistance fighters.

One significant action came from the Blohm&Voss shipyard workers of Hamburg. On March 27, 1936, thousands of shipyard workers prevented a Hitler speech from being broadcast over the radio. At the company level, they organized the united front. Then, when the workers were gathered in a shipyard hall to listen to Hitler's speech, at a signal a large part of the workers began to leave the hall and yard. The resulting commotion, chants and increasingly strong shouts:

"We want our wages!"

"We are hungry!"

Finally this made listening to Hitler's speech impossible.

In the spring of 1936, union leaderships were also formed in Berlin, in northern Germany, in the Ruhr mining industry, and in Frankfurt, where Communists, Social Democrats, Christian workers, and nonpartisan workers worked closely together. For example, the union leadership in the Saar region consisted of two Social Democrats and one Communist.

However, there was not only good news. In the first half of 1935, more than 1,100 anti-fascists were arrested in the Wuppertal area. 27 of them were already murdered during the preliminary investigation. More than 600 defendants received long prison sentences for rebuilding free trade unions in Wuppertal and the surrounding area. In order to save and defend them, to expose the murderous terror of the Hitler dictatorship and to help their relatives, an international solidarity committee was founded in Amsterdam. All over the world many people showed solidarity and took part in the suffering of the German anti-fascists.

In 1936 alone, 11,678 Communists and 1,374 Social Democrats were arrested. At the end of 1935/beginning of 1936, for example, a widespread organization working on the reconstruction of the German Metalworkers' Association fell almost completely victim to the fascists' acts of terror. They were beaten with fists and rubber truncheons, kicked and punished with penitentiary, or deported to Buchenwald concentration camp.

The beginning of 1936 was marked by large mass trials of anti-fascists. In the whole year 1936, about 3283 defendants were sentenced to a total of 8,249 years in prison in 609 trials. Fifteen death sentences were passed, nine of which were carried out. Trials were held against 570 accused anti-fascists in Hamburg and against 150 resistance fighters in Zeitz in May 1936. Other trials were held in Breslau, Munich, Stuttgart and other cities. Martial law prevailed against the resisting workers. Roland Freisler, fascist mass murderer in the office of State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, said in October 1936:

"Whoever now still dares to shake the foundations of our völkisch community, whoever in communist delusion wants to disintegrate the concentrated vitality of the people, is not a misguided seducer, but a criminal whom we must render harmless. He who destroys peace, harmony, and thus the strength of labor in German workshops is not a stray Marxist ideologue, but a criminal whom we must destroy."

Many signature lists and letters of protest arrived from abroad. Here is an example from the Czech workers:

"We Czech workers protest in the strongest terms against the torture and ill-treatment committed by the GESTAPO against those arrested, whose whole crime was to have fought for higher wages and a better standard of living by unionizing. They have as wanted what Hitler demagogically promised them with his German "socialism". We demand the release of the Wuppertal workers ! You executioners of the German people should know that the international proletariat is watching over the lives of the German freedom fighters!"

The leadership of the Amsterdam International also joined in the protest movement: "All affiliated federations and all friends of freedom we call upon to join this protest action to awaken the conscience of all decent people against Hitler's barbarism." The problem of the Amsterdam International, however, was to do exactly the opposite of what it had called for.

Many actions were suppressed by force. The GESTAPO had a well-organized system of so-called "experts" with appropriate functions, defined as follows:

"1. through the system of informers in the factories, more information is to be obtained about the moods of the workers.

2. the police are to build up the collection of news about the political composition of the workforce. All information is to be entered in a card index of politically unreliable workers with the aim of being able to arrest all politically unreliable workers in the event of a strike.

3. to prevent acts of solidarity with the strikers in any way.

4. to avoid mass arrests wherever possible."

 

(Part 5)

 Roter Morgen No. 23 from 10th of June, 1983:

The trade union resistance movements became increasingly difficult. Although they were stronger in 1936 than in 1935, the number of strikes and also the number of strikers was higher, the actions were mostly limited to a single plant or plant departments. The number of workers involved in the strike did not exceed 100 on average. At best, the struggles lasted for a few hours.

One of the most effective strikes was the work stoppage in the body shop of Adam Opel AG in Rüsselsheim on June 25, 1938. After the demands of the store steward's council for higher wages were rejected by the management, the workers of the first shift of the body shop stopped the assembly line and marched demonstratively to the plant manager. As a result, the workers of the first shift - 262 colleagues - were dismissed without notice. 37 workers - among them 15 members of the SA and 6 members of the SS - were arrested.

Terror in its most diverse forms increased rapidly. But new forms of anti-fascist resistance struggle also developed in the factory and the trade union. People moved away from strikes as a short-term form of struggle to organize the "work slow! - movement." Sustained over a longer period, it could be a suitable means of bringing about production stoppages, especially in the armaments factories during the war At the same time, it served as a means of exerting pressure to enforce economic demands. In the swastika press, "Wirtschaftszeitung," of 1938, the following is written against the so-called "slow shifts" of Blohm&Voss shipyard workers:

"In an important industrial plant of the Central Elbe economic area, work discipline slackened due to the fact that a part of the followers stayed away from work without any excuse or under trivial pretexts and did so-called dawdling shifts. As a result, production was considerably endangered, so that the Reich Trustee of Labor was forced to make use of the powers conferred on him by the decree of July 25, 1938, and by order based on this decree, to determine for this plant the observance of the working hours existing for the plant, with simultaneous threat of punishment by the criminal courts in case of violation of this order.

Nevertheless, after some time, some of the members of this factory, who do not yet seem to have the right attitude toward work and the fulfillment of duty in the National Socialist Reich, have again endangered production by repeatedly being absent from their place of work without excuse and without permission, or by giving incorrect reasons for their absence.

The behavior of these workers showed such great irresponsibility and such considerable disregard for the idea of the company community that these violations could not go unpunished. At the request of the Reich Trustee of Labor, the Chief Public Prosecutor therefore took up the immediate prosecution of the defendants. In expedited criminal proceedings, three workers were now sentenced to one month, 3 weeks and 6 weeks in prison for offenses against §2 of the Ordinance. The conduct of further criminal proceedings is still pending."

Here the full force of the fascist state machinery, which rolled over the workers without restraint, becomes just as clear as the swastika press, which warned everyone not to violate their duty in the "National Socialist Reich." Anyone who did not show up for work was sent to prison.

* * *

At the Wilhelmshaven shipyard, too, the workforce did not go to work because 8,- marks were to be deducted from each worker's wages in order to present Hitler with a gift of 100 000,- marks at the launching of a warship. The colleagues declared:

"We don't have 8,- Marks to spare. If the shipyard wants to give the Führer a gift, it will be at the expense of the shareholders, but not at our expense."

Nothing was deducted from the next wage payment, and shortly thereafter a notice was pinned to the bulletin board stating that they were refraining from giving the Führer a gift from the followers.

Not only were the delivery dates for submarine construction demanded by the Reich Armament Council delayed by systematic slow work, but also by scheduled disruption of the acceptance tests by clogging the test lines, thus causing damage to the boats but not to living men.

* * *

In the foreground of the resistance actions of miners in the various coalfields was the defense of wages and working hours. They fought against the modulation of wages and against additional work shifts. The miners fought for company meetings by approaching the store stewards and stewards' councils individually and through delegations. The weapon of passive resistance was used as a means of exerting pressure. As a result, the per capita production fell by 10%. This was also a fabulous contribution of the miners against the intensive war preparations of the German armaments industry. The coal was used to cook the steel for weapons production.

 

 

(Part 6)

Roter Morgen No. 24 from 17th of June, 1983:

 

Actions of solidarity of the German proletariat with the struggle against fascism in Spain:

The first use of the war machine was in Spain in 1936. Since July 18, 1936, Franco's fascist generals had been putsching against the legitimate Spanish Popular Front government.
Despite the fact that the majority of the members of the Social Democratic Executive rejected a joint declaration of protest with the Communists, German anti-fascists, Communists, Social Democrats and trade unionists, heroically gave their lives in the battles of the Spanish Civil War for the freedom of Spain, for the freedom of the peoples. In the front of about 30 000 antifascists from 53 countries also 5 000 German antifascists took part.

The actions of the trade unionists for the defense of material interests were not connected consistently enough with the political struggle. But there were also really good beginnings in the trade union movement. This was especially evident toward the end of 1936 in the support for the struggle of the Spanish people against fascism. Beginning in September 1936, leaflets appeared in almost all major German cities sharply exposing and condemning the military fascist intervention in Spain. In August, anti-fascists from nine Berlin metal factories protested against the aggression of the Hitler regime. On Sylt, the anti-fascists even tried to organize a strike.

In view of the growing danger of world war, anti-fascist seamen also made great efforts to combine the struggle for higher wages with the struggle to secure peace. Class-conscious seamen went to Spain and joined the International Brigades there. Gun in hand, they fought against fascism. One of their leaflets stated:

"Now it is our duty, the duty of German seamen and Rhine skippers, to make all transports of war material impossible. Every anti-fascist seaman, every class-conscious Rhine skipper can help in this work, which at the moment means the best support for the fighting Spanish comrades!"

The seamen's union leadership suggested:

"Observe and investigate as closely as possible the contents of each cargo. Report your observations to us or to the nearest workers' organization."

An illegal control reporting committee was even formed by the Hamburg shipyard workers. On the basis of information about the cargo of ships, it was possible in some cases to delay shipments of war materials to Spain.

The free trade union railroad workers joined the fighting front for the defense of the Spanish Republic. In the first issue of their newspaper "Fahrt frei!" in 1937, they also called for solidarity with comrades fighting in Spain. To have achieved all this under the illegal conditions of the fascist regime of terror was a great feat of the German anti-fascist workers.

* * *

In July 1936, an ITF conference was held at the Belgian Transport Workers' Union House in Antwerp, attended by German seamen and Rhine boatmen. As emerged from materials of a group of seamen in Copenhagen, not only was there a struggle for an increase in wages and for the reinstatement of the 1932 wage scale, but the Antwerp meeting also became the starting point for organizing the anti-fascist struggle.

Also supported by the ITF, the further formation of the illegal free trade union railroad workers took place in September/October 1936. The trade union newspaper "Freie Fahrt!" appeared from 1936 to 1938 with a monthly circulation of at least 500 copies. This is quite a "large" circulation, considering that each copy was passed from "hand to hand". The main base was, on the one hand, the West German industrial area and, on the other hand, the organization was concentrated in Southern Germany.

There were arrests of 11 trade unionists. They had to suffer the most severe mistreatment. In 1937, they were put on trial - before the "People's Court."

In building up the illegal liaison network, the railroad workers proceeded on the principle that it was necessary to organize a network of illegal functionaries throughout Germany. This illegal force was to be capable of then - if any events occurred - placing itself at the head of the railroad workers and enforcing the rebuilding of their union. West Germany was divided into districts. And at the head of each district was placed a colleague who was responsible for its leadership. Links were established with supporters of the International Socialist Fighting League, which had a well-functioning illegal apparatus.

They also disseminated, among other things, the ITF's illegal program of 1935, which was an immediate trade union program. In it, members demanded:

An increase in wages, a reduction in the tax burden, the reintroduction of tenant protection, an increase in unemployment and crisis benefits as well as welfare benefits, the expansion of short-time workers' benefits, the restoration of the Works Council Act, freedom of the press for workers' organizations, the right to strike, the restoration of the collective labor contract, the Protection Against Dismissal Act, the 40-hour week with full wage compensation, etc.

 

 

(Part 7)

Roter Morgen No. 25 from 24th of June, 1983:

As another association, the miners, supported by their organization, also achieved progress and very good results in their struggle in the second half of 1936. In order to be able to keep the miners' wages low and even reduce them without any major resistance, the mine administrations threw the entire workforces into confusion. The miners' demands were publicized, among other things, in radio lectures on the German Freedom Radio. Through inquiries and complaints, the workers forced the holding of works meetings. On January 1, 1937, the Trustee of Labor in Westphalia was forced to issue new guidelines for setting wages under pressure. These stated:

"If the total occupancy of the work is more than 5 men, a tusker must be allowed; if the occupancy is more than 10 men, a second tusker must be allowed; and if the work force is more than 20 men, a third tusker must be allowed in the Gedinge regulation. These tusks are appointed by the comradeship."

Furthermore, a 100% supplement for the night shift was decreed. Thus, important old union demands had been forced through the pressure of the miners. These forms of struggle were partly reminiscent of the first attempts of the workers of the 19th century to protect themselves against the arbitrariness of the capitalists.

In Lorraine, 300 German miners from the Saar region were organized to work as frontier workers in the French mines. In December 1936, they wanted to force them to exchange their wages, which they received in French francs, in Germany according to the exchange rates applicable there. Since this threatened the 6,500 frontier workers with a wage loss of 30%, it was decided to take action. The demands were rejected. The French unions now helped to organize protest meetings. The French unions showed solidarity with the German miners. On February 13, 1937, the midday shift of about 1,000 men of the "Saar et Morcel" mine crossed the border in unison after changing their money in France. The miners broke through the border controls and went home unhindered. Against the fascist reinforcements that had been brought in in the meantime, the miners on the night and morning shifts joined forces and broke through the controls with 2 000 men. As a result, the fascist foreign exchange order was temporarily lifted on February 15. When it was to be applied again on February 27, the miners again protested in closed groups. Now the Nazi regime was forced to set a 50% compensation for wage losses incurred during the exchange.

* * *

On March 20, 1937, anti-fascist trade unionists created the Coordinating Committee of German Trade Unions in Paris. It was attended by 22 delegated representatives of metalworkers, miners, construction workers, textile workers, workers in the graphic industry, and white-collar workers in various fields. They represented the most diverse former trade union institutions, the free trade unions, the Christian trade unions and the Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition (RGO). They belonged to the two labor parties and the center party. Some delegates were nonpartisan. The Coordinating Committee tried to work with the ITUC (Amsterdam International) and the ADG (exiled trade union of the SPD). This was a major step forward in establishing trade union unity under fascist conditions. The principles and tasks were laid down in a memorandum on building an independent, unified, anti-fascist trade union movement in Germany. It was jointly realized that trade union activity could be more effective if it were coordinated for individual areas and industries. From the outset, the committee limited its field of activity to France and the neighboring German territories. In the second half of 1937, other coordinating committees of trade unionists were formed in Switzerland and Belgium. This was followed in October 1937 by Stockholm, from where factory and trade union work in northern Germany was conducted within the framework of the German Popular Front.

Unfortunately, there were forces that tried to divide the trade unionists "party-politically." Thus, at the beginning of August 1937, Heinrich Schliestedt circulated draft statutes for a federation of German trade unions. According to these, only those who could prove (!) that they had belonged to a previously recognized (!) trade union by the end of April 1933 were to be allowed to become members. The ADG leadership imposed conditions of admission by which communists and unorganized workers were to be excluded. Fortunately, this sectarian line did not prevail. This anti-communist divisive activity of the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) was no accident. From June 30 to July 3, 1937, the General Council of the ITUC met in Warsaw. Here the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which had left the ITUC after World War I, was readmitted to the ITUC. The entry of the AFL strengthened those forces that opposed cooperation with communist trade unionists and thus undermined international trade union unity against fascism.

However, there were also responsible officials in the international trade union movement who continued to advocate trade union unity. Representatives of the unions of France, Spain, Mexico and other countries opposed the policy of division, which was directed against the Communists.

 

(Part 8)

Roter Morgen No. 26 from 1st of July, 1983:

There were solidarity actions with accused German trade unionists. The overall scope of the actions and movements carried out in 1937 is difficult to substantiate with source material. Clues are provided by documents from the central office of the fascist German Labor Front. A secret report mentioned 250 work stoppages and short strikes. They were about the defense of piecework wages, payment for overtime and extra work, wage increases for higher-skilled work, against work rush, and the rejection of working time extensions. Only in a few cases were such demands, which directly affected the living conditions of workers, linked to the political struggle for peace and transformed into direct action against Hilter's war policy ("guns instead of butter").

Union tactics consisted largely of requests to store stewards, in factory meetings of the workers. In addition, many complaints were made to the offices of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) and the DAF (German Labor Front). This form of struggle resulted in the arrest of 1,700 DAF members for "highly treasonable activity" in 1936. In the first half of 1937, this number had already reached 1,000, showing once again how multifaceted the struggle of anti-fascist trade unionists was in Germany.

In 1937, the official unemployment rate was less than 1%, less than in the lowest unemployment year of 1924. Production reached record levels. But the nutrition of the population was below the low of 1932 ! What can expose the fascist economic policy more clearly than this juxtaposition of facts. In addition, wages were lower than they had been in 1932 - and this during the boom in production. If one then takes into account the increased cost of living and the bottlenecks in consumer supplies, especially the lack of food, the picture of the actual miserable situation of the working class under fascism emerges. As little (spartan) as possible should be consumed in order to produce as many weapons as possible.

Even with a 24-hour week, workers collapsed from exhaustion due to the performance wage system in the consumer industry. On the other hand, the 104-hour week at the electric power plants was not exceptional. Whether the workers in the fascist factories worked long or short hours, in any case they could only live as miserably as in 1927-1929. The accident rate in 1937 = 70% higher than in 1932. The work rush was unimaginable. The closer the workplace was to the production of armaments, the greater the increase in output. The social security contributions were used by the Nazis for war production. Every penny went to armaments. The proud German worker, who had acquired great rights in a hundred years of class struggle, became under fascism a miserable slave of the armaments industry.

The gross national product increased enormously, but the piece of bread that the worker got from it was already only half as big as in the worst crisis period of 1932. The contradiction between the poor and the rich was thus perverted to infinity already 5 years after Hitler's seizure of power. At the same time, in 1937 already one third of all fascist activities were fixed on the war. How many beautiful and good things could have been created if not fascism but socialism had come to power.

All workers would not have had to go working since 1933 to live happily ever after with all the money that was poured into armaments in 1937. In other words: If only production had been for peaceful purposes, then the German people would have lived in prosperity and would not have had to live in misery under fascism.

Jürgen Kuczynski ( a theorist of the social-fascist GDR) wrote in his lectures about the movement of the German economy under fascism:
"This is the crime and madness of fascism in its most harmless time, when anti-fascists called it a hell, and yet it appears to us today, compared to its sheer unbelievable atrocities only a few years later, as a beginner."
What Kuczynski does say here about fascism cannot be said any differently by us communists about the social fascism of the GDR, which had been built not least by former Nazis. It was the KPD/ML which heroically fought under illegal conditions against social fascism in the factory and the trade union, against the workers' and peasants' prison of the GDR.

* * *

The annexation of Austria in 1938 broadened the trade union front to resistance against the annexation policy of German imperialism. Immediately after the invasion of Austria, the miners addressed to the German people in a leaflet:
[Quote in Red Morning not published at this point ...]

* * *

The resistance struggle in the factories was also directed against the forced labor system imposed in 1938, which served the direct preparations for war. Children and young people could be exploited in the armaments industry without protection by law. This is evidenced by the reports of the labor inspectorates at the time. A new wave of rationalization in war production rolled over the workers and drove them to ever higher work stress. However, when colleagues in Berlin were endangered to be rationalized away, the workers in one department turned off the machines. Their protest was successful.

Similar actions were successfully carried out at the Blohm&Voss shipyard in Hamburg. They forced the issue of protective clothing.

At the Rheimetallwerke in Düsseldorf, the Hesse AG in Kanstadt, the Magiruswerke in Ulm, the Daimler-Benz plant in Stuttgart and the Opelwerke, the workers secured their wages and even an 8-hour day.

Another positive aspect was that all movements could be initiated more and more in a legal way, taking advantage of well-occupied positions within the fascist German Labor Front (the German Labor Front was the fascist organization that replaced the trade unions that had been smashed in 1933).

In individual cases, acts of sabotage and other illegal resistance actions were also carried out that were directly directed against the war armament. On the other hand, however, the difficulties caused by intensified fascist conditions also grew. Thus, the influence of the fascists in the factories grew. In addition, hundreds of thousands of women and young people, as well as peasants and foreign forced laborers, who had neither the opportunities nor the experience in the factory and trade union resistance movement and therefore first had to be educated and recruited, were deployed.

* * *


When German troops marched into Czechoslovakia on October 1, 1938, anti-fascist railroad workers, with the help of an illegal radio station, prepared to disrupt the fascist march by forging orders to.

* * *

A leaflet of the Hamburg shipyard workers of Blohm&Voss stated:

"We do not want war! We, the overwhelming majority of the workforce, are only voicing what the vast majority of the Hamburg population thinks. We warn the fascist war provocateurs against any warlike action against Czechoslovakia, which would mean world war and in which our homeland would be the theater of war. We are against war and believe in a peaceful mission of the world trade city of Hamburg as Germany's gateway to the world for the purpose of peaceful exchange of goods with all peoples for the benefit of the German people, as well as for that of the Czech people."

Many trade unionists became aware that the struggle for economic demands had to become at the same time a struggle against War and Fascism.

 

 

(Part 9)

Roter Morgen No. 27 from 8th of July, 1983

 

At the Burbach Metallurgical plant near Saarbrücken, the movements took on the character of an openly political demonstration. Part of the wages were to be "paid out" in the form of tax vouchers. Because of the strong protest actions, an armed police unit was called in and deployed.

Several uprisings and strikes occurred among the workers who had to build the Westwall. Their actions - they ranged from tens of thousands of protest letters to the DAF social welfare office and protests to Radio Saarbrücken to a general work stoppage on June 10, 1939 on the Gersweiler - Saarbrücken section. They were directed against poor nutrition, lack of support for families, lack of work clothes, etc. The Nazis had to pay a one-time premium of 50 marks. Other "perks" were "granted" in addition.

Shortly before Hitler's hordes marched into Poland, the KPD addressed proposals to the SPD for unified action by all anti-fascists and opponents of the war. Kurt Geyer, Rudolf Hilferding and Friedrich Stampfer belonged to the group of SPD leaders who continued to adhere to their previous attitude of refusal. They still strictly refused to cooperate with the KPD. This could only be right for Hitler. Before the workers, however, there could be no justification whatsoever for this treacherous, vile attitude. They themselves gave the right answer to this social-fascist attitude of the SPD leaders: common struggle to overthrow Hitler's fascism - at the grassroots, although the conditions for this had become more and more difficult with each passing day.

For example, trade union work in France was severely constrained by the growing pressure of the police prefecture. The coordinating committee of German trade unionists had to disband.

Difficulties also arose in connection with the 8th Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation in Zurich (July 5-8, 1939). The Second World War was on the agenda. By 46 votes to 37, the anti-communist forces led by the American union AFL again prevailed at this congress. In practice, however, these resolutions failed to have any effect, because the anti-fascist trade unionists continued their united front in practice even under the aggravated conditions.



Resistance of the German Workers
in the Second World War
"War on the imperialist war!"

 

The outbreak of the Second World War demanded new great challenges from the anti-fascist workers and trade unionists.

The armaments industry ruthlessly shifted the burdens of the war onto the working people.

The trade union movement in Germany faced the most difficult test in its history.

From now on, May Day was dedicated to the struggle against war.

The May Day appeal of the Communist International stated:

"May Day, the day of international solidarity, is celebrated by the working people under the conditions of a new imperialist war. Never has the idea of international proletarian solidarity been of such vital importance to the workers of all countries as in these days of war which has engulfed Europe and Asia in conflagration.

The Communist International calls upon you workers to fall in line under the glorious banner of proletarian internationalism, under the great banner of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, for only under this banner will you be victorious."

People were torn away from their lives and thrown to the front, their families destroyed. The war robbed children of their fathers, mothers of their sons, and women of their husbands. The exploitation of labor in the armaments factories took on bestial, inhuman proportions. Pensioners, women, children, foreigners and prisoners of war toiled and died in the factories. The absolute arbitrariness of the capitalists prevailed, the whole murderous system of exploitation and oppression of war fascism - and this inevitably had to bring forth resistance in an even more heroic form.

Until 1945, for example, in the Siemens factories in Berlin, workers and trade unionists worked for the overthrow of the fascist dictatorship.

In September 1939, at the outbreak of the war, a leaflet called for a boycott of the production of munitions. In November 1940, another leaflet stated:

"Rheinmetall-Borsig AG achieved a net profit of 3,900,000 Reichsmarks in the first year of the war. This sum will be paid to the shareholders of this company. The stockholders have not lifted a finger. Do you think that is fair ? Is this the much vaunted 'Volksgemeinschaft' ?"

(The leaflet is signed by "Arbeiteropposition in der NSDAP").

A leaflet appeared in Berlin, Dresdnen, Magdeburg, and at the front in December 1941, stating:

"In various chemical plants in Germany, substandard substances have been poured into the bombs in place of fulminate mercury. The effect of these bombs is zero. That's right ! German workers ! Prevent the murder of innocent civilians! Sabotage the work! Everywhere the German workers are sabotaging! In the submarine yards the submarines are repaired wrongly ! Emery is thrown into the machine stores. Workers ! Peasants ! Soldiers ! Turn over the rifles! Hitler has betrayed us! His rule is over!"

Many resistance fighters were of course aware that fascism could not be destroyed with leaflets and slogans and therefore saw their task in organizing directly the armed struggle in addition to anti-fascism and anti-war propaganda.

This was done, among others, by the ADV (Anti-National Socialist German People's Front) in Munich:

"There are already many millions of Germans who feel solidarity with our cause. Unfortunately, many lack the courage to be active. We must tell these fearful ones that without struggle there can never be salvation and that anyone who does not join in and stands aside with folded arms is in fact only supporting Hitler."

The ADV saw to the arming of its members and organized sabotage in industry and transportation. It developed its activities at the Deckel machine factory, the Agfa plant, and the Krauss-Maffai locomotive factory. It was also joined by the workers and employees of a Munich coal company, a building materials warehouse, BMW workers, and workers at other plants.

The AVD installed a transmitter and maintained contact with foreign organizations of the National Committee "Free Germany." It also established contact with resistance groups operating abroad, which worked among the prisoners of war in the large factories.

The resistance against Hitler increased from year to year of the war. It also took on more and more organized forms. According to incomplete Gestapo statistics, 33,000 Germans and about 53,000 foreigners were arrested in 1944 alone in the territory of the "German Reich" for oppositional and, above all, Marxist activities. Justice Minister Thierack announced that in the first 6 months of 1944, 193,024 "work stoppages" and 12,945 foreign "work stoppages" were registered in Germany.

According to the West Berlin Institute for Economic Research, 250,000 foreign citizens laid down their work in the factories of the "Third Reich" in 1944.

Even though many resistance activities were prevented by the intervention, considerable damage was done to the Hitler regime.

At the end of January 1942, a leaflet was circulated with signatures of 60 German deputies and trade union officials:

"Workers and working women of Germany!
Rise up to fight against the Hitler gang, against the vile regime of war, hunger and concentration camp !
Bring the workbenches to a halt ! Make the machines that produce instruments of murder useless !
Work more slowly !
Protest against the forced deductions !
Refuse to make any more sacrifices! They only prolong the war.
Create illegal store stewards to lead the struggle against war and Hitler fascism, for a new, free Germany.
Prepare for mass strikes and demonstrations to end the war, to overthrow Hitler !
Down with the Nazi regime !"

In May, a "Workers' Committee of Free, Union Miners of Germany" issued a leaflet that was distributed in Düsseldorf and throughout the Ruhr:

"Miners !
In this struggle for freedom of the peoples, our comrades in the occupied territories are leading the way. They spare no sacrifices, not even their own lives, when it comes to dealing a serious blow to Hitler's gang. Our comrades in France, Belgium and Holland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia are forced by the brown robbers to drive in to produce coal for Hitler's guns and factories. But they sabotage the coal production with all means. Pumps are destroyed, crosscuts blown up. Stacks of brake mines and roadways are destroyed. Struts and yards are broken. Locomotives break down on the roadways and slide motors, light and air lines no longer function. Strikes have already taken place at many mines, and at all the mines in the territories subjugated by Hitler, our comrades are preparing very seriously for large mass strikes. They are animated by one will:
The Hitler regime must fall, its war machinery must be destroyed.
But an important link in the struggle for freedom of mankind is still very weak, although it is actually in the greatest danger because of Hitler's criminal policy. The German people itself.

Will the German workers, the whole German people actively join in the struggle of the freedom and peace loving peoples against the brown tyranny in order to regain their own freedom ? Will the German workers, in particular, continue to tolerate Hitler's devastation of the towns and villages of the Russian workers and peasants, the murder of women, children and old people in their name? Will they continue to tolerate that the SS, green police and Gestapo in the occupied territories quench their bloodlust with gallows and executioners' axes, with mass shootings of hostages and pillaging ? Especially the miners' comrades in the occupied countries expect an answer to this question from the Ruhr miners.

Ruhr miners !
We have to give this answer quickly. Let's sabotage the coal mining by all means, let's work slowly, three for two. Let's destroy, wherever and however we can, the machines, light and air lines ! Let's shore up and pack badly, so that the longwall must break. Let's prepare for the mass strike. In all comradeships, precincts and shafts create shop stewards and shaft committees to carry out the struggle against the hated Hitler regime.

Long live the fraternal solidarity of the miners of all countries !"

* * *

Franz Jacob - a member of the KPD - wrote a leaflet for construction workers in July 1942:

"Once again thousands of our comrades are being shipped to Norway and the East, torn away from their families and pressed into the hardest front and slave labor, in order to nevertheless pin the already lost victory to Hitler's flags. We are not yet strong enough today to refuse this war work. But before you leave, consider the following:

1. make sure of your wage rate, front pay, separation pay, driving pay, and vacation pay.

2. set conditions for board and lodging. Once at your destination, you must demand:

1. elimination of all military drill in camps and work sites.

2. no harassing treatment by OT chiefs and eradication of all foremen who act as drivers.

3. Decent treatment of the native population or prisoners of war assigned to you.

To enforce your demands, unite, gather around you the most class-conscious members of the former free and revolutionary trade unions, no factory, no construction site without your store stewards.

Comrades, you must know: Hitler's defeat is not our defeat, but our victory.

Therefore: Disrupt the scheduled construction of the fortifications, ensure slow and poor quality work.

Sabotages the German warfare, refuses the military use in raids on the coast and the partisans in the east.

Establishes a good relationship with the population of the occupied territories.

Down with the war of Hitler's fascists !

Long live the victory of the working class !"

Of course, it is not enough to prove by means of leaflets that the German workers' and trade union movement did its duty even in the Second World War. No matter how difficult the movement was to carry out, it was carried out heroically.

The Gestapo's orders on terror sentences passed also prove that despite the harshest repressive measures, the anti-fascist movement of the working class did not succeed in breaking up.

In June/August 1942 alone, no fewer than 4,408 German anti-fascist workers were arrested for working in solidarity with foreign forced laborers and prisoners of war. In the months of May to September 1942, 6,695 workers were also incarcerated for their active anti-fascist struggle. Last but not least, the resistance of German workers and trade unionists remained alive in the fascist concentration camps and penitentiaries.

Behind the barbed wire, the revolutionary, red May idea could not be stifled. In Buchenwald, the prisoners set up a platform for May Day 1944. In it was demanded:

"1. destruction of the fascist dictatorship;

2. punishment of war and terror crimes. Reparation of all injustices;

3. establishment of a German People's Republic on a new democratic basis.

4. termination of the war. Sending home of prisoners of war and foreign workers.

 

 

(Part 10)

last part
Roter Morgen No. 28 from July 15, 1983

5. peace without annexation and tribute, refusal to use German labor for forced labor after the war.

6. nationalization of heavy industry. Sufficient food. Introduction of the 40-hour week. Unity of social legislation."

 

* * *

Most people know the date July 20, 1944. The trade union movement was also involved in this resistance. One of the most famous names is Wilhelm Leuschner, who fell victim to the Nazis and was executed.

However, this did not prevent the social-fascist leaders of the German trade unions from invoking unity in words but fighting against the communists in deeds and excluding them from the trade unions.

Alfred Kummernuß, longtime president of the ÖTV union, declared at the 1964 Federal Youth Conference:

"Many trade unionists, Social Democrats and Communists came to the realization in the concentration camps and penitentiaries of the Third Reich: in the Weimar period there were as many as 100 trade unions. In the concentration camps, we talked for a long time and agreed that if we escaped with our lives and another time began, then we must do everything we can to create a united trade union. Only a united union can prevent concentration camps from happening again."

The current member of the board of the Industrial Union of Metal, Hans Preiss, formulates:

" ... the united trade union, that is the solidary unity of all trade unionists against the arbitrariness of capital, born in Nazi penitentiaries and concentration camps."

But what happened after 1945 ?

These words of solidarity and the invocation of the unity union were followed by social-fascist deeds: Thousands of trade unionists who fought against the arbitrariness of capital and showed their solidarity in the concentration camps were expelled from the union, most of them were communists. What is behind of such anti-communist expulsions in a trade union of which Otto Brenner said the following:

"One of the most important lessons learned from the experiences made in the struggle against dictatorship was drawn by the German trade unions in their reconstruction immediately after 1945. The division into directional unions was overcome. For the first time, a unified, cohesive trade union movement emerged in Germany, independent of governments, administrations, entrepreneurs, religious denominations and political parties, as stated in the statutes of the DGB (German Trade Union Confederation). Otto Brenner, himself a resistance fighter and imprisoned in a concentration camp, said this in his speech commemorating the resistance fighters on April 8, 1966. Today, however, for the social democratic trade union leaders, there are no communist resistance fighters, only communists "who were in cahoots with Hitler" and "led Germany into disaster."

The communist worker at the lathe is kicked out of the union today: A colleague, for example, only needs to wear an anti-Strauss badge in a union-owned company and he is kicked out. And a Norbert Blüm, CDU Minister of Labor, an anti-union servant of high finance, continues to be celebrated as an honorary member of the union.

Can one say that we have learned from the mistakes of the time of fascism ? Can we say that such a 1933 can really be prevented under today's conditions ? No, one can really not say that. At present, the CDU/CSU would not occupy and smash the trade union houses as in 1933, but would put them at the service of capital. But let's assume theoretically that they would actually do it. Would the yellow union of the DGB be willing and able to lead us to anti-fascist resistance, and to do so successfully - that is, in contrast to the betrayal of the ADGB in 1933, when the unions had welcomed the fascist seizure of power.

What if the emergency laws are applied and a reign of terror of finance capital is established against the West German population in a completely different form than in 1933 ? Are we prepared for the case when we are again robbed of the freedom of the press, the right to strike is banned and militant trade unionists are again locked up behind bars ?

It is a sober truth that most trade unionists are not aware of the dangers that threaten us again today. Who knows, for example, the raw materials for the trade union discussion that Stoiber wrote on behalf of Strauß years ago ? According to Stoiber, the unions have become a "danger to democracy." And Strauß said in his New Year's speech in 1978/79: "Strikes, in my opinion, have no place anymore."

:::::::::::: ::::::::::: ::::::::::


Here the article suddenly stops unfinished.

Why ?

in Roter Morgen No. 28 from July 15, 1983 the Trotskyite editors wrote:

"At this point we end the reprinting of excerpts from the speech."

 

__________________

 

Here is a

REMARK

from comrade Wolfgang Eggers

 

The final part of this article was no longer printed by the Trotskyist Roter Morgen editorial staff. The reason for this censorship is of course clear:

My final censored part was about the revolutionary conclusions of the anti-fascist factory and trade union movement.

An anti-fascist factory and trade union movement that does not advocate the goal of smashing capitalism and ending wage slavery will sooner or later either end up in the camp of fascism or be crushed by fascism, as happened in 1933.

This is the most important lesson of the anti-fascist resistance struggle of the workers in the factory and the trade union. However, the Trotskyites did not like this revolutionary conclusion and that's why they refused to publish it. That was Trotskyite censorship !

* * *

 

Today, we define a Stalinist-Hoxhaist worker as a revolutionary worker who struggles for the abolition of the inevitability of world fascism by creating world socialism under the dictatorship of the world proletariat, namely for the purpose of paving the way towards world communism.

This definition is valid especially under worst conditions of fascism and its brutal terror throughout the whole world of labour.


Any other so called "anti-fascism" is bourgeois or petty bourgeois anti-fascism and leads back to the restoration of fascism, earlier or later, and in the one or another way.

I admit self-critically that my knowledge and consciousness was not yet so far developed in 1983 for being able to create such a cristal clear definition of world proletarian anti-fascist struggle. ( I was then 34 years old). As participant of the Marxist-Leninist World Movement of comrade Enver Hoxha I was then still not able to comprehend and unmask the historical falsification of the anti-fascist struggle of the Comintern and especially the German working class after 1933 which were spread in all the documents of the social-fascist GDR and which were used as sources of writing my article. The weakness of my article is this: A today's Stalinist-Hoxhaist revision of the history of the anti-fascist struggle of the German working class after 1933, then falsified by the modern revisionists, is missing.

Inspite of this weakness, the article is instructive in many regards.

Firstly, the article is suitable in memory of the 30th of January 1933, when Hitler Fascism seized power.

Secondly, it helps the reader to understand that the best elements of the German working class have waged a heroical, sacrificial struggle against fascism under utmost dangerous and difficult circumstances within fascist factories and fascist mass organizations of the workers.

Thirdly, the material and sources give us the opportunity to develop a critical view on revisionist historical documents.

Fourthly, my article, which was censored, abridged, and incorrectly commented on by the Trotskyists, throws an illuminating light on the difficult situation in which the KPD / ML found itself under the Trotskyist leadership in 1983. 1983 was the first year in which, together with Comrade Ernst Aust, I took up the open fight against the Trotskyist leadership in the KPD / ML.

Fifthly, the article can be suitable as an instructive document in the framework of our campaign for the 100th anniversary of the RILU. It contains suggestions for those revolutionary workers who, today, have to struggle at their workplaces under fascist conditions, especially in those countries where trade unions are banned or revolutionary trade unionists suffer the brutal terror of fascism and social fascism.

Sixthly, the German working class was supported in solidarity in its anti-fascist struggle after 1933 by many workers of some European countries. Today, we are fighting under the conditions of world fascism. This means that we must apply the lessons of solidarity support of the struggle of German workers against Hitler's fascism on a global scale. It is the task of the Comintern (SH) and the RILU today to organize the international solidarity of the world proletariat against world fascism, both in the workplace and in the trade union.

Our Stalinist-Hoxhaist perspective is to change the world of labour in world fascism in a revolutionary way, that is, to transform it into a world of labour of world socialism.

28th of January, 2021

Wolfgang Eggers

 

 

 

Fighting Fascism in the Factories

1934